This article is guest authored by Client Advisory Board Member Sarah Hatfield, Business/Systems Analyst at University of Minnesota Duluth.
This year, the CollegeSource Annual Conference was once again held at the beautiful Paradise Point in San Diego, CA. Clients from all over the United States – and even Canada and Hong Kong – came to this four-day event to receive training on CollegeSource products and learn how institutions are using them to better serve students. Some came for the workshop opportunity to learn encoding fundamentals and best practices of the uAchieve degree audit system. Many participants also joined the week-long TES track that, upon successful completion, resulted in TES Administrator Certification.
The conference formally kicked off on Monday evening with the First-time Attendee Meet and Greet. This was an opportunity for users who had never been to the conference before to meet CollegeSource staff, Client Advisory Board (CAB) members, and other first-time attendees. Of this year’s 280 attendees, more than 135 were first-timers hoping to learn more about CollegeSource solutions, TES, Transferology, uAchieve, and Schedmule. The Meet and Greet was immediately followed by the conference’s Welcome Mixer, which allowed users to mingle fiesta-style and enjoy delicious bites before sessions began the next day. For users who have attended the conference multiple years in a row, this is an opportunity to catch up with the friendly faces they see year after year and learn what is new in their lives and at their institutions.
Tuesday’s Opening Session gave an update on the achievements CollegeSource has experienced this year both in growing their products and increasing their service to its user base. TES, the Transfer Evaluation System, experienced a 46% increase in transactions, with almost 15 million sessions occurring. Transferology experienced 18% growth in the equivalencies it stores, and also received the honor of being placed in the top 5% of accessible home pages through a study done by WebAim Millions. The tradition of the Sourcie Awards continued, with Ivy Tech Community College being recognized for ‘Reverse Transfer Degree Granting Initiative,’ and the Minnesota State system being honored for ‘Exceptional Statewide Coordination for Positive Student Outcomes.’ A new member of the CollegeSource team was also introduced – Janie Barnett, former Associate Executive Director of AACRAO – who will be bringing her extensive experience in higher education to the company.
Sessions began after the opening, with users flocking to the uAchieve Basic Encoding Workshop, or a number of breakout sessions. These learning opportunities continued throughout the week, with a break on Wednesday evening to enjoy the talents of the San Diego Shout House’s Dueling Piano Act. Final sessions were attended and farewells were said on Thursday afternoon, as users packed up and prepared to return to their colleges and universities until the next year!
Highlights from This Year’s Conference
This year’s CollegeSource Annual Conference continued the tradition of combining learning, networking, and fun! This CAB member felt that the sessions available this year were some of the best. In particular, I especially enjoyed the University of Colorado presentation, “‘Special GPA’ Integration – Passing GPAs from Degree Audit to SIS.” This session showed how you could use GPA data from uAchieve audits to support reporting through PeopleSoft.
Don Meyer’s presentation on the phases of degree audit progressing (“Live Long and Process – Phase(r)s of the Audit”) and Donna Pursifull’s overview of how transfer grades are translated in uAchieve (“Sign On for My ‘Three-Hour Tour’ (in 45 Minutes!) of Transfer Articulation Grade Assignment”) provided me with in-depth, valuable knowledge that I can bring back to my institution and share with others. These presentations are a must for anyone who manages uAchieve’s degree audit and transfer credit functionalities!
One of the best things about the Annual Conference is the ability to network with other institutions that use CollegeSource products. I was happy to hear that one user noted feeling very supported at the conference, as opportunities to connect, share ideas, and troubleshoot problems are always a main focus.
As a CAB member, something I look forward to each year is talking with schools about their business processes, their technology needs, and how software such as TES or Transferology might help them better serve students. I had great conversations with schools who were interested in brainstorming ways they could use TES’s user-added course functionality, as well as colleges who were interested in learning more about how TES and Transferology could be implemented at their institution. Sharing with and learning from my peers is always such an enjoyable experience at this conference!
Hosted by the Client Advisory Board, users could participate in two client-driven “Respond and Share” networking sessions. These are opportunities for attendees to give feedback regarding CollegeSource products, ask questions of other institutions, and in general have a place to talk and brainstorm with each other about contemporary issues in our professions.
In the “Respond and Share: Transfer Solutions” session, clients spent time discussing business processes with other institutions, such as how colleges maintained transfer credit equivalencies. Others were looking for feedback on general transfer credit best practices, including the storing of decisions on student records. There was no shortage of conversation, as colleges sought to develop connections with each other and learn about the variety of ways they could use CollegeSource technologies at their institutions.
In the “Respond and Share: Degree Achievement” session, questions focused on how colleges that had implemented the uAchieve Planner or Schedmule informed students about these technologies when they rolled them out. Institutions also sought feedback on how to use certain functionalities in uAchieve, such as how to manage security and how to suppress required count. Attendees also looked forward to the next CollegeSource conference, giving feedback on what types of sessions they would like to see.
What’s Next for the CAB
The CAB will be looking for new members in the coming year! This is a great opportunity to connect with others in your profession, and to act as a liaison between CollegeSource and its user base. If you are interested in helping support the CollegeSource user community, be on the lookout for an announcement about applications.
The advisory board will also be looking to expand its reach to users over the coming year. One focus will be on connecting with first-time attendees and giving them the resources and connections they may need prior to their arrival at the 2020 conference. We will also be working on a project that would allow CollegeSource users to more easily connect with colleges and institutions that are like them to help research and implement CollegeSource products on their campus.
We look forward to seeing you at the next CollegeSource Annual Conference! Save the Date: June 22-25, 2020, in San Diego, CA!